Sunday, February 10, 2013

The very emotional side of my journey

When I embarked on this odyssey of getting healthier and losing weight, I just knew the process would be highly emotional.  Yet, I don't think I was as prepared as I thought I was.  Food has been an addiction for me in my life, just as the alcoholic is addicted to alcohol or the drug addict is addicted to whatever substance will give a high.  So, too, am I in a dance with food.  My escape from it is non-existent because, let's face it, we do have to eat to survive.  There has got to be a different relationship with it because it was always the go-to thing if I was bored, angry, happy, sad or whatever the emotion was.  It is not the avenue I can choose any longer to deal with things or help me walk through life or even to treat as a friend.  It's no friend of mine!  What that means for me is that it leaves me raw and extremely vulnerable. As a result, I'm finding myself feeling every emotion much more strongly than I have allowed myself in the past while the food was there to help me wade through.  It's not as if I was even thinking to myself, Hmm, I better eat these chips to help me because I'm upset.  Instead, it's opening that bag of chips, eating half of them and then finally realizing what I was doing only to then think, Oh well, I already screwed that up so I might as well finish the whole bag.  That sets up a never ending cycle that brings a person to 420 pounds.

You're probably wondering if something has happened to bring me to this train of thought.  Yes and no.  The no comes because I know that as the weight has come off of my body, I was going to have to deal with the reasons why I ate in the first place.  Invariably that means that I would have to deal with my entire life because I have always been overweight and, more accurately, obese.  I couldn't just leave all those reasons sealed tight behind a door.  Believe me, I want to, with everything in me I want to leave the past in the past.  The problem with that is if I don't deal with the past, it will come with me into the future.  I've had to deal with these feelings as I've lost weight and also as I've gained weight.  The last several months have been extremely difficult for me in seeing weight that I worked so hard at taking off come right back on my body.  All the various medications that I've been on included some that cause weight gain.  As a result of the frustration with that and other physical issues that I will get to in a moment, it has caused me to pick up food and eat when I knew I wasn't physically hungry and making choices of certain food to have over healthier versions.  The frustration I have felt has come out in the food I've eaten.  As it's gotten cleaner, I have to deal with these things in another way - walking through it.  It's really not even just the issues of the weight gain but also the fear of being in a smaller body when I have spent my entire life in a bigger one. 

So that brings me to the yes of something happening to lead me to my train of thought in this post.  As I've made decisions for myself that include not just living healthier physically, I've also moved forward on healing on the inside as well.  That means making the appointment to see a therapist, it means more time spent journaling and most definitely more time spent praying as I lean on God to help me walk through all of this.  And when I have things that come up for me, I have to choose to deal with them differently.  This last week has been especially clean with my food as I've started my new program and that feels really good, but it also leaves me very raw.  I've had some significant blows this week on the physical front that I'm dealing now and trying the best I can to walk through. 

As I shared earlier in the week, I saw my rheumatologist about the pain in my legs.  Based on all the tests that have been run and examinations I've had, it appears to be a type of chronic pain that I'm going to have to live with.  It may leave me, it may get worse or it may be this way permanently.  Given that I'm in pain every single day from it, that was a blow.  Did I eat over it?  No.  Yes, I wanted to but I didn't go there.  The weight gain has caused me a lot of emotional pain, more than I can ever really describe, but it was enough pain that I knew the diagnosis from the rheumatologist could not be filtered through food of any sort.  Then I received a bigger blow on Friday.

I've shared on here before that I've been dealing with some work injuries for quite a while and have been in the middle of the worker's comp world.  It's a place I hope no one that is reading this ever has to be a part of.  The people at my workplace have been great and so accommodating as I've had to deal with my injuries by going to medical appointments, changing some of my duties around so that I'm not using my hand strength as much and just being overall very supportive.  My experience with the insurance company and other people associated with my claim, however, has been very different.  Thankfully I have an attorney to help me wade through all of this, but I have felt very attacked through this process and I personally can't wait for it to be over.  The latest with all of this is that I have been seen by a QME, who is a doctor that is neutral that does a thorough examination, runs more tests if necessary, reviews all records and comes to a conclusion as to a worker's level of disability and determination on whether or not this is a permanent condition.  On Friday, I received the 53-page report he wrote on the status of my medical condition when it comes to those injuries.  I haven't read the entire thing yet because it was very difficult for me emotionally to read what he wrote, but essentially my condition is now permanent. When I received the report on Friday, I shared with couple of friends at work the findings, but it hadn't yet hit me as to what it all meant.

Yesterday I decided that I needed to stop thinking about it and go for a good workout.  So I headed over to my gym.  It was in the middle of the afternoon with not too many people in the gym.  I found a treadmill in the back row, which is usually where I like to go.  I brought my iPhone with me to listen to music while I walked on the treadmill.  This is something I usually do, so it's not distracting for me.  I stretched my legs before starting the treadmill, so it was feeling really good and I was getting pumped up to do a few miles.  At about 2-3 minutes into my warm up, where I walk slower to get ready for a faster pace, my phone rang.  I didn't have the earpiece in that would let me take a call, so I decided that I'd let the phone ring.  I looked down at it to see who was calling and I think that's when I lost my footing.  My knees hit the moving belt on the treadmill and then my hands until I was on the ground next to it.  And, of course there were people right next to me.  They saw what happened and asked me if I was okay.  It reminded me of one of those scenes from The Biggest Loser where the contestants, during the first week of being on the show, fall of their treadmills because they couldn't keep up.  It wasn't as if I was going fast, just one of those freak things.  I stopped the treadmill and got back on.  I had a moment where I thought to myself that I should turn around and go right back home.  But, I just knew that if I left and went home, I might be getting ice to put on it, but I would definitely be in the food and eating over this.  I started back slowly, holding onto the sides just to be sure I didn't fall again and eventually did three miles.  I then went over to the recumbent bike and spent some time on there as well.  By this time, the pain in my fingers from bracing myself for the fall was intense.  My legs were starting to hurt, too.  I hadn't even looked at them yet.  When I got home, I saw that two of the fingernails on my left hand had bleeding underneath and one of those fingers is black.  I don't think it's broken, but it is very bruised.  Then I saw my legs had dragging marks on my shins and knees, with bleeding there as well.  I grabbed some ice and then got on the phone to call a friend I had plans with to cancel.  That's when the tears finally came.  Not from just the treadmill episode, but all of it ... the worker's comp stuff, the leg pain and more.  In fact, to give you a full picture, here's everything I'm dealing with physically:
  • Osteoarthritis in both knees
  • Diabetes that is being currently controlled through diet and exercise, with episodes of low blood sugar (although much less than it used to be) and slight neuropathy in my feet that from when the diabetes was out of control before - leaves my feet in pain at times
  • Sleep apnea that has gotten better with the more weight I lose, but I can't use one of those machines because I can't fall asleep with it on my face since I'm a tummy sleeper so I have a very hard time getting a good night's sleep most of the time
  • Unexplained muscle pain starting from my knees all the way up through my hips, leaving me unable to do certain physical activity without extreme difficulty
  • Degenerative disc disease in my back with spine narrowing (much more complicated than I'm describing but this is the gist of it) that leaves me very uncomfortable if I'm sitting for longer than an hour
  • Carpel tunnel in both arms which is recommended for eventual surgery, as well as median neuropathy in my forearms and right wrist  and associated muscle tenderness
  • Scar tissue damage from the tendon release surgery I had in my right hand that leaves me in excruciating pain by the end of the day depending on how much I used my hand - hurts more with the more computer work and/or writing I do
As you can see, it is a lot to deal with.  I do have some pain medication that takes the edge off, but I am always in pain of some sort.  In the meantime, I'm also continuing on weight loss, working full time and going to school as well.  Just seeing it all listed in one place reminds me that I definitely do have a lot on my plate.  On the flip side, it does show me that I am a resilient person who is tougher than I give myself credit for.  Seeing a therapist through all of this is long overdue, that's for sure.  If you are embarking on a similar journey of weight loss or just getting healthier, don't underestimate the emotional side.  It is very important to be present enough to deal with it.  I know that, for me, I need to keep taking this one day at a time.  I can let yesterday go and look forward to the day I have in front of me.  It's supposed to be nice weather here in San Diego today and I don't have to work.  I get to do whatever I want to do and that's a nice feeling. 

Oh, by the way, I lost five pounds this week.  Hooray!


Misc Mom said...

Congrats on the weight loss this week and I am so sorry for all the physical and emotional stress you are going through. I applaud your persistence to continue your workout despite falling though, because I cannot say for sure I would have been as strong. ((hugs)) and I hope and pray that as the weight comes off your pain decreases. Thank you for the serious and personal post. It makes life and this journey so much more real when it's not all about stats and weight, but about REAL life. You are an inspiration girl!

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